“It’s going to be a heatwave. We’re due some good weather, but they’re saying temperatures will really climb on Thursday. The weekend’ll be a scorcher”. Exactly what you don’t want to hear when you’re leaving the country expressly to get some sun and rub your freckly face in the faces of everyone you meet upon your return. Well – metaphorically speaking you understand.
I packed optimistically, my husband admiring the triumph of hope over information that was our 20kg Ryanair-ready bag. “Jackets? I laugh in the face of jackets on the Algarve.” “OK, I’ll put in one or two jumpers, but purely to appease.” (Cue eye ball roll). This from the lady who nearly froze – yes, officially I am certain the term is froze – in Australia a couple of Octobers ago. “But you’re Irish – this cold must be normal for you” said (too) many jovial Aussies to me, determinedly waiting out the unseasonal cold in their thongs (please people, their ‘flip flops’ – NOT that kind of holiday). “No. In Ireland we have central heating. And socks. And hot water bottles”. I ate dinner in a noodle bar with my beloved, my legs wrapped in a blanket and my hoodie-hood up and fastened under my chin.
So I guess out of all of that I took the determination of the Australians to carry on regardless and insist upon the return of weather suitable to Summer attire. Hmmmm…
We took off from balmy Shannon, arriving in a near-baltic Faro, heading for beautiful Sagres in the far-flung South-Western tip of Portugal. And after a night of thunder storms, and a shaky, rainy, cool start to Saturday, the weather and a lovely holiday picked up from there.
A little stop in Vila do Bispo
Portugal is a really, really great country and the more I go there, the more I grow to love it. My sister lived in Lisbon for a few years so that was an excuse to visit that lovely city and country – skiving off to Cascais, Estoril, the amazing region of Alentejo and the spectacular Algarve – more than one might have otherwise. The more I go, the more I want to go back. The language is utterly baffling, but their pasteis de nata, their cuttlefish stew, their beaches… We had the nation’s acclaimed barbecued Piri Piri Chicken for the first time on this trip – eh, where has that been all my life?
There is no photographic evidence of the chicken. It was that good
Can you imagine we didn’t see or come across one take-away coffee cup over our week away? Okay, okay, I know the Portuguese love their espresso and that’s not particularly conducive to long slurps out of a mug on the go. But still… Slower living, pause for thought and lingering over a small, strong cafe in a pleasant village square. Isn’t that what (life) a holiday should be all about? That and maybe a small playground on-site. Always helps…
While I was studying for a year in Dublin, way back, I worked for a short while in a small shop near Griffith Avenue on the capital’s north side. It was a corner-has-a-bit-of-everything type establishment and I worked there at weekends and evenings to generate some kind of ‘lifestyle’ (if you could call it that) in that very expensive city. Anyhoo, also employed there was a lovely lady who had four young children. She ran the very-busy deli all day Saturday and all day Sunday, while her husband was at home to mind the kids. For her, this wasn’t a pay the bills or pocket money thing. It was 100% a holiday thing. Every penny of her earnings went right into a savings fund for the family’s annual holiday to somewhere warm and sunshine-filled – maybe it was the Costa del Sol, maybe Santa Ponsa, I don’t quite recall.
She came, she earned, they travelled back to their favourite sunny place.
I thought she was crazy.
I totally get it now.
On our last morning, Alan was already plotting our return – preferably sans enfants. We’re dreamers. “I’d love to go to Porto Al – or you have to visit Lisbon, you’d love it”. Given the quiet of where we live, the thought of an exotic city break for two had me all a-buzz. “I was thinking more of going back to the West Coast… you can’t beat the beauty of it”.
Hard to argue that one. So many places to see, so many favourites you’ll never get enough of.